by Michael Dossett

The breeding program had a very successful 2014 season, with 39 new selections made, 90 new crosses, and about 4,000 new seedlings planted, as well as establishing a new machine-harvested yield trial with more than 200 selections for evaluation of machine-harvestability and yield potential. In addition, we’ve also been busy in the lab working to identify genetic markers for resistance to root rot, Raspberry bushy dwarf virus (RBDV), and aphids and hope to be able to start using some of these in the program by the end of the year.

While the program continues to make progress and we expect to have a number of selections with improved quality and disease resistance available for trial in the next few years, there are a few recent developments that growers should be aware of:

‘Squamish’ – ‘Squamish’ was tested as BC 92-9-15 and was formally released about a year ago. Initially, ‘Squamish’ was identified as having the potential to be an early season replacement for ‘Malahat’ with better tolerance to Phytophthora root rot and other soil-borne diseases. Further testing has shown that it also has the ability to machine harvest extremely well and that ‘Squamish’ has potential to be a dual-purpose variety for both fresh and processed markets. The fruit of ‘Squamish’ tend to be a little larger and firmer than ‘Malahat’ with very good flavor and have a similar season to ‘Willamette’. ‘Squamish’ produces an adequate number of canes, but these tend to be concentrated around the crown without as much suckering as ‘Meeker’ and many other varieties. ‘Squamish’ also has resistance to six of the seven raspberry aphid biotypes found in the Fraser Valley, indicating that it may be a bit slower to acquire some of the viruses that have been associated with crumbly fruit. ‘Squamish’ has less vigor than ‘Cascade Delight’ and some other varieties and needs to be managed accordingly. That said, machineharvested yields in replicated trial plots at the Clearbrook substation have been similar to ‘Malahat’ and ‘Chemainus’. Plant availability of ‘Squamish’ is very limited and growers should talk to their nursery suppliers early if they would like to trial this new variety.

‘Cascade Harvest’ – ‘Cascade Harvest’ is a new release from the Washington State University breeding program in Puyallup, Washington. It was originally tested as WSU 1507 and noted as a seedling for its ability to machine harvest well. ‘Cascade Harvest’ has been trialled at several sites in Oregon, Washington and BC in recent years and has been very favorably reviewed. The fruit have very good flavor and machine harvest extremely well. In addition, ‘Cascade Harvest’ has a good degree of root rot tolerance and also carries the gene Bu, which gives it resistance to the common strain of RBDV. ‘Cascade Harvest’ also has yielded exceptionally well in trial plots. While ‘Cascade Harvest’ has many very good attributes, there are a couple areas to watch out for. There has been some concern that the color may be a little on the light side for some applications. The level of anthocyanins (fruit pigments) in ‘Cascade Harvest’ have ranged from nearly the same as ‘Meeker’ to slightly lower depending on the location and year. In addition, while the fruit machine-pick very nicely, they can also be a little on the soft side in some situations. Washington State University is currently working on the paperwork for making ‘Cascade Harvest’ available to growers in Canada, and all in all, I think ‘Cascade Harvest’ has lots of potential for growers in BC and I encourage them to look into trying it on their farms.

BC 5-11-1 – The last selection I will mention is BC 5-11-1. BC 5-11-1 comes from a cross between a BC selection with excellent root rot and aphid resistance with a selection from the WSU breeding program. The fruit are similar in size and color to ‘Meeker’ with very good flavor. In plots at the Clearbrook substation, BC 5-11-1 machine-harvested exceptionally well. While we are in the process of testing this selection more thoroughly, we are also working to get it tested widely to better gauge its potential. The breeding program worked with Eric Gerbrandt and Tom Baumann to establish 200 plants of BC 5-11-1 in trials on two BC grower farms in 2014. If trial results look good in this coming season, we hope to have more plants available in BC as well as some plants available for trial with cooperating growers in Whatcom County in 2016 and 2017.

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